Coetzee goes on the offensive
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee took issue with his critics, especially those who suggest the team's conservative game plan is to blame for the growing injury list.
Veteran hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (neck injury) on Monday became the latest casualty - added to an injury list that already includes such key players as Schalk Burger (quad strain), Jaco Taute (AC joint), De Kock Steenkamp (groin), Rynhardt Elstadt (shoulder), Manuel Carizza (wrist), Siyabonga Ntubeni (calf) and Pat Cilliers (ribs).
Liebenberg and Burger became the latest players to fly home, following the 15-25 loss to the Brumbies last Saturday.
However, Coetzee went on the offensive when it was suggested his players are getting injured because they are "tackling too much" - a direct result of a game plan based on defence rather than attack.
"Let me just refute that immediately," Coetzee said in a teleconference call from Brisbane, where the Stormers are preparing for the last match on their month-long Australasian tour - against the Reds on Saturday.
"Most of our injuries happen when we carry the ball, and not [when we are] defending," the Stormers mentor said.
"Siya Kolisi this past weekend is an example - [he was injured] not when he was defending, but when he carried [the ball].
"It is not about defending too much.
"If you look at the number of tackles the Brumbies made, compared to us, it is just a few," he said of the game last Saturday in which the [Brumbies made 115 tackles and the Stormers 113.
The coach suggested that in other games the opposition made a similar number of tackles than the Stormers, although the statistic from the two previous tour matches - the Chiefs made 89 tackles and the Stormers 116, while the Crusaders made 105 and the Stormers 135 - didn't quite added up.
In their last home game, against the Hurricanes at Newlands, the Stormers did indeed make fewer tackles - just 113, compared to the 127 of the visitors.
However, Coetzee was adamant felt the injuries can't be attributed to the number of tackles his team made.
"Pat Cilliers was injured in a maul where we were on attack," he said, adding: "Eben [Etzebeth] was injured [when he] landed [awkwardly]."
He described it as "traumatic injuries".
"It is a myth that the injuries occur because are mostly defending."
He also dismissed the suggestion that the injuries can be contributed to poor conditioning.
"There are two tiers of what you are dealing with," the Stormers mentor said, adding: "There are the chronic stuff and if you look at Rynhardt [Elstadt], it is a re-injury of his shoulder after he underwent surgery after the Currie Cup last year.
"De Kock Steenkamp went through a conservative approach and he broke down again [with a groin injury].
"Then there are the traumatic injuries," he said of setbacks that occur as a result of collisions and knocks in matches and at training.
"Those you can't really help or plan for.
"[There was] a rib injury to Pat Cilliers, Scarra [Siyabonga Ntubeni] tore a calf muscle, Frans Malherbe had a fractured toe and then all the AC joint injuries.
"If there were a lot of soft-tissue injuries I would have worried and questioned the conditioning.
"It is definitely not the way we train."